linguist and author of the book, "Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English."
Have we gotten a tad too lax about swearing these days? Do we swear more than we should? Or, is there something else bigger going on? Columbia University linguist John McWhorter explains why our idea of profanity is changing.
John McWhorter, linguist, New Republic contributing editor and the author of What Language Is (And What It Isn’t and What It Could Be) talks about the Democrats' rhetorical choices in their conventions speeches.
John McWhorter, linguist, New Republic contributing editor and the author of What Language Is (And What It Isn’t and What It Could Be), talks about the Republicans' rhetorical choices.
Linguist John McWhorter, a contributing editor at the New Republic and the author of What Language Is (And What It Isn’t and What It Could Be), talks about language and how we use it and change it.
Linguist and author John McWhorter talks about his new book, What Language Is: And What It Isn't and What It Could Be.
Event: John is reading tonight, August 9, 2011, at 7 pm at McNally Jackson Books, 52 Prince Street in Manhattan.
This week, we've been talking about the impact of the recession on the wealth of minority groups in America. Early in the week a new Pew Research Center report showed that Hispanics were the group hit hardest by the recession, with a 66 percent drop in personal wealth, and African-Americans saw a 53 percent decline since 2005. The public sector is the leading employer for African-American men, and the second-largest employer for African-American women — which means public sector lay-offs have disproportionately affected the black middle class. What is the solution?
Three of the Billboard top ten songs in the country have titles containing the F-word. On this year’s Grammys telecast, Cee Lo Green played a rollicking version of the smash hit everyone knows isn’t really called “Forget You.” Has one of the most powerful curse words in the English arsenal become toothless? We get some straight talk on profanity from linguist John McWhorter and New York Times pop critic Jon Pareles.
People accusing Barack Obama of being insufficiently “angry” need a Shaft fix. After that, they should get back to evaluating our President as a human being rather than as a stereotype.
Yes, stereotype. How “angry” are people waiting for a United States president to look, and why so much concern about it with this president?
As of the NAACP’s recent report on racism in the Tea Party, the media is again abuzz with concern that bigotry is a prime motivator of the movement. We are also being told that the wise American today should worry about a new onslaught of racism.
I doubt both claims. What should depress us most about the Tea Partiers is that they, complete with racist freeloaders as well as an airheaded tantrum masquerading as a political ideology, may never be going away.
-- John McWhorter.
If Barack Obama and the Democrats really wanted to re-arouse the coalition of voters that gave Obama the White House two years ago, all it would take is a single issue we aren’t hearing about amidst the earnest back-and-forths over health care, TARP and taxing small business.
“You’re not as conservative as I thought!” I hear this all the time. I’ve learned that when media outlets seek me out, it is best to let them know early on that I cannot serve as right-wing “balance” in a quest for a “diversity” of black voices, and that my politics are best described as cranky liberal.
But that’s not the reputation that precedes me. Why the confusion? Because I write about race politics, and when you venture into that territory, today’s narrow view of what’s acceptably liberal quickly distorts ideological labels.
There is an element of ahistoricism in the idea that American politics is uniquely “broken” today. The forward-looking essence to the American spirit discourages the near-obsessive focus on past slights and failures that can hobble a culture. However, it also encourages a sense that what is striking or disturbing is also a novelty, when quite often it is not.
Yesterday the NAACP wrapped up its Centennial Convention. The Takeaway has been covering the convention all week, from DJ Spooky’s artistic take on the African-America experience to President Obama’s address last night. Today, as part of the “after the party” conversation, we are joined by John McWhorter to look at the relevance of the 100-year old institution and the challenges it faces in taking on 21st century discrimination. John McWhorter is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and Adjunct Professor at Columbia, his latest book is Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English.
"The funding that Barack Obama is giving to community colleges, that is race-targeted legislation in its way. And I think that's wonderful. And I think we lose sight of that if, say, the NAACP continues to focus on discrimination as the main meal."
—John McWhorter on President Obama's address to the NAACP